Anger is the flip side of Love, a totally natural and very primal emotion that when addressed properly, can be healthy and cathartic to exercise out. The snag comes when we hold onto that anger for too long, or if we're angry at someone or something, no longer a part of our life. If anger has nowhere to go, and no healthy outlet to be released into, it can turn inwards and cause all kinds of trouble in our lives. As easy as it is to be told just to "let it go." the process itself can be very complicated and confusing. The most important aspect of anger is the resolution of it. Being able to forgive those who have angered us is just as much about giving ourselves peace as it is offering an olive branch. Like all emotions, developing coping tools for your emotional tool box is always a crucial aspect to effectively dealing with strong feelings.
It should be noted that forgiveness certainly doesn't require forgetting, and if a person has hurt you, is toxic to you, or isn't an appropriate fit for your life, forgiving them doesn't mean you have to let them back in. Your wellbeing and mental health is always priority number 1!
Some of the most effective ways to manage anger towards an individual no longer in the picture is to physically let them go, to do this I suggest a simple exercise with a very large impact. Write them a note with all of the reasons why you're angry, everything they did to hurt you, all of the feelings you feel and get it all out on paper. The idea isn't for them to ever read it, but for you to get all of your anger out and onto something physical, and when you feel ready, find a creative way to let go of both the letter, and your anger. You may want to tie it to some balloons and watch it float up and out of your life forever, have a bonfire and send that anger off viking style, or maybe you decide to make confetti and throw yourself a "letting go" party.
Whichever you choose to do, keep in mind that as people with such wonderfully complicated lives, anger is a natural part of our interactions with other people. Striving for that anger to be healthy should be our goal, and taking time to get it all out and let it go in appropriate ways, can be just the thing needed to help get you back to your happy place.
At the end of every dark night, there is the brightness of day. Be kind to yourself.
Adam Castle BSW MSW CAC.